Discover Your Appetite for Adventure
By Rick Blitman
There was a time when dining on vacation revolved around stopping for a pecan log at Stuckey’s, or jumping off the interstate for a quick bite at Howard Johnson’s on the way to somewhere better. Today, food is the destination.
Whether it’s traveling to Sonoma for a week of organic wining and dining among the vineyards, or grabbing a roadside roti from an oil drum grill in Montego Bay, more people than ever are getting a taste of the world, one bite at a time. And it’s not about gourmet dining. Food travelers are craving authentic experiences. Real food from the places locals eat. Foodies with a gourmet preference are very much in the minority. So much so, in fact, that the food travel industry refrained from using the term “Culinary Tourism” in 2012 after research showed that the vast majority of English speakers interviewed found the word “culinary” to be elitist.
The shifting trend towards authenticity goes hand-in-hand with the explosion in popularity of TV shows like Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” and Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”, and the proliferation of food selfies on social media. More than 60% of today’s leisure travelers admit to posting photos of their food online. We used to share french fries. Now, we share everything.
And when it comes to sharing, most food travelers are motivated to visit a destination, restaurant or bar based on the recommendation of a friend. Once they get there, they typically spend 48% more on their trips than typical leisure travelers.
In today’s world, experiences are the new souvenirs, and adventurous food travelers have learned that the best way to truly understand local culture is through food and drinks. So encourage your guests to step away from the buffet, break free from the guard gates, and turn a meal into a memory somewhere off the beaten path.